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How we organised a successful mini-marathon at our school

How East Sheen Primary School ran the Virtual Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon

A runner dressed up as a pink unicorn

A mini-marathon is a great way for schools to raise money for charity. Not only does it encourage kids to exercise and keep healthy, but it brings the school community together at a fun outdoor event. In 2020, the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon went virtual due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and over 400 schools and 110,000 children took part, running 2.6 miles.

So the community at East Sheen Primary School put on their running shoes to raise money for The Children’s Trust. We asked Lottie Swift, a teacher at the school and the event’s main coordinator, how they did it…

Why did you raise money for The Children’s Trust?

They’re a fantastic charity and they provided superb care for Hannah, a former pupil of ours who sadly passed away after losing her battle with leukaemia.

And why did the idea of a mini-marathon appeal to you?

Hannah loved running, so this was a really nice way to celebrate her life and show how much all of her friends missed her. Everyone wore pink, which was her favourite colour, or something with unicorns on because she loved them. My class made headbands and we printed out unicorns and decorated them so they had unicorn hats on. We even had an inflatable unicorn there – one of the parents got dressed up.

How long was the mini-marathon?

The children ran 2.6 miles, a tenth of an actual marathon, by running 12 laps of the perimeter of our school. We call it the Phoenix Mile because our school logo is a phoenix. It was nice because we did it in year groups and when their year group wasn't running, all the other children lined the playground as if it were the real marathon and cheered them on. It gave everybody a bit of encouragement.

How did you spread the word about the mini-marathon and the fundraising campaign?

We kept everything within the school community and stuck to the Parentmail messaging system. We have quite strict rules about social media at the school, so we didn’t use it at all. The Children’s Trust wrote about the mini-marathon on their blog, and we put posters up around the school.

What advice would you give to schools doing something similar?

It’s really good to explain your motivations for holding the event. Putting up the story of Hannah and why we were coming together to do the mini-marathon made it feel very meaningful and relevant. The personal touch really helped. Also we found that photographs on the Virgin Money Giving page worked really well. I think they encouraged a few more donations.

Would you recommend using Virgin Money Giving to other schools holding fundraising events?

Definitely. It was so much easier than having to collect cash or do it through the school office. It made everything really easy, and what I also really liked was how donors could write a little message, or choose to donate anonymously. It was really nice for Hannah’s family to read those messages and to know how much she is missed.

Want to take part in this year’s Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon in schools?

The next Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon in schools will be in September 2021. Check out how you can get involved at and fundraise for your school or charity. Let us know if your school or charity is taking part, and email us at

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